They say it takes 20 years to become an overnight success and Ayanda Thabete’s journey from climbing the pharmaceutical corporate ladder, to her newest role as Top Billingpresenter and Ponds ambassador are proof of this. It is hard to believe that just two years ago this dynamic beauty was sleeping on her sister’s couch. With a name as sweet as her personality, Cosmopolitan magazine editor Holly Meadows and Ayanda discussed all things confidence and career at the recent #COSMOHustle career workshop.

Starting out in the corporate field was no easy task for Ayanda.“After completing my honours in marketing I struggled to find a job and so worked as a PA. I knew that it was never my final destiny and so I made sure that every single day someone new saw my CV. Every discussion can take you one step closer to your destination.” Her perseverance paid off when she joined Johnson and Johnson but in a field far removed from her desired end. “I worked with medical devices and diagnostics – essentially marketing for hospitals.” Here Ayanda learned the importance of commitment and to learning the tough lessons which would later her help her in her future career paths.

 The concept of ‘fake it till you make it’ also came to the fore as Ayanda admits she was initially out of her element. “They asked me if I was afraid of blood and I lied and said no” she admits laughingly. After facing a retrenchment she made the bold move of approaching Loreal, her dream job. “Despite my experience in corporate, I had relatively little marketing experience and so had to make the decision to start from the bottom and work as an intern.” Luke 16:10 “whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much” rang true as Ayanda remained faithful in the little things and pushed herself to gain as much experience in various fields whilst working in the lower ranks. This meant that by the end of her first year as an intern she had the confidence and ammunition to approach her bosses for a promotion, knowing that there was nothing more that the current brand managers were doing that she had not already learnt. “This was my lean in moment.” The Lean In movement, as popularised by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, has been dubbed the new wave of feminism in business, encouraging  women to demand the recognition they deserve.”I ensured I had done the work to back up my request for promotion. Faith without works is dead. If you build it God will bless it but you need to behave as if you are already there. Even as an intern I walked into every room as if I was a a future brand manager.”

After working on various successful brand campaigns such as Dark and Lovely, Ayanda’s love for the entertainment industry kept calling for her. “My greatest advice would be to star,t and then see where it takes you. I would go to castings in between my lunch breaks. Only when it got to a point where the entertainment industry opportunities were getting bigger than my current job did I make the decision to leave.” This was one of the riskiest decisions for Ayanda, to leave her dream job. “It is during this time that I learnt the value of two years. I once again started from scratch and was sharing a one bedroom flat with my sister, sleeping on her couch. This was all just two years ago” Even in these lean years Ayanda’s commitment to tithing never faltered. “When people ask me for financial advice I can honestly say that I tithe a tenth of my income and then save another tenth. Speaking about the Lord is not very popular in this industry but I know that  I wouldn’t be where I am today if it was not for Him.” Even now that her entertainment career as well as own agency Buzzworthy Productions goes from strength to strength, she remains disciplined. “Finances is about honesty with yourself. If someone else is in a different stage of their life than you, don’t feel like you need to force your finances to keep up with a standard of life that you are not at yet.”

 Much of what makes Ayanda’s brand such a success is her consistency, whether it be with Buzzworthy or on her social media. “Social media is not just a social connection tool but is a self marketing tool. I applied the various marketing lessons I learnt at Loreal to myself as the product.” With 492000 followers it seems to have worked. This secure self identity has helped her in the business world. Her top tips for nailing that pitch? “Realise that even though you are in marketing you still need to have a grasp on numbers. Clients want to know what the units, price and quantities will be in real terms.” A further tip for securing the deal? “I always come up with a platinum/gold/silver/bronze option per project with platinum being the furthest reach for the biggest budget. This ensures that if the client says no because of affordability, I have ideas in place to achieve a similar result with a smaller budget.”

When discussing the entertainment industry Ayanda admits that is is a very hostile environment sometimes. “When I am lacking confidence I think back about challenging times in my life and realise all the obstacles I have overcome. I then have renewed faith knowing that this too shall pass.” Ayanda is a bright light in an often dark industry and I cannot wait to see what more this woman of God is going to achieve.

bye for now

xx

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